Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Little Rally for the Valley

An observation of mine is that people in general, just aren't happy, can't be made to be happy and quite possibly don't want to be happy. Perhaps the only happiness a lot of people feel they can even begin to revel in is their ability to piss and moan about the things that make them unhappy. Then when they get to a point in life where things are relatively good for them they realize they don't have any unhappy things to piss and moan about so they are truly unhappy. This gives them the go ahead to begin pissing and moaning about the stupidest of shit in an effort to restore their glory days of piss/moan happiness. Stupid shit that really doesn't matter yet somehow through their departing of wisdom upon us...their eager to listen masses...elevates them to some knowledgeable level of being and they can then look down upon as royalty in their realm as they reign king....of nothing.

OK so I'm in a bit of spiteful piss/moan mood of my own tonight, bite me.

"What the hell is this all about" I can hear you asking from behind your compy screens. Suppose I should get into then and at least clue you in to what the catalyst of this entry was. See there's this website all about board games. It's a site that I never mention (I'm lying) here in this blog. It's a site that I never (still lying) reference or refer people to and I certainly don't (yep, another lie) have their widgets embedded into my blog on the left over there showing you bits of my collection, etc. On said website they occasionally have a little podcast by the dude who runs it and the dude who use to run but it and helped set it up and then moved away so he only shows up every now and then. I'm going to be kind and not say that I'm talking about Derk here. While at it I'll also not say that I do like Derk and feel we have a good bit in common taste wise in games. I'll further say that I even think a bit of personality matches between us as well, at least judging by his posts and comments.

So recently the unnamed Derk joined Aldie on a podcast and the topic was brought up about Valley Games and all their reprints. Derk made a couple of comments that I feel were...well wrong. His comments were basically that he didn't think Valley chose wisely in their target market as the fans of the games were going to be the rabid crazed fans of the game and nit pick everything. He furthermore said that he felt reprinting some of these games was not a good idea as all the people who needed these games already had them.

To be fair to the unnamed Derk, he was as I said just the catalyst to this posting. In addition to his comments this fire has been fueled for awhile now in the comments and thoughts of gamers who post their dislike for minor...MINOR things that they blow way out or proportion in respect to Valley Games' reprints. (See my opening paragraph.)

Bottom line is that it's my personal opinion that Valley Games has done very well for themselves in almost all areas of their business model. As a young company and one new to the world of game publishing they have had a couple of hurdles to get over but they got over them and did so magnificently. So their pre-orders were what that happens. People get a grip for fuck's sake already. Valley Games went on to make it up to the pre-orderers by giving them extra sculptures (which I know also haven't arrived yet) than they previously promised. On top of that what you really did by pre-ordering your games from Valley Games was to ensure the game itself would get printed. Young companies need this kind of cash in hand and pre-orders do that for them. The sculps are just bonuses. It's like the crap the give you for pledging to your local public television station or the t-shirt you get for giving blood. You do what you do for the fact of doing it and it's not suppose to be about the bonuses. In this case what you are doing is specifically putting money up front to get the game you sit back and be patient and low and behold your game did in fact arrive. Congratulations due to your direct contribution your helped birth the game. Smile, be happy, stop all your pissing and moaning about the delays. Shit happens people. Deal with it.

Then there are those who complain about the little nuances of the production. Maybe the art is this or that. Maybe the chits are circle and should be squares. Fucking mother douche bags! Isn't it possible that the original artwork was flawed? Hell maybe a dye lot got screwed up between proof and print. That's been known to happen, so what should be done then? Should the entire shipment be sent back to be reprinted meaning another 6 months wait time? Yeah that's all Valley Games would need!

As for their selection well for me I say it's been so-so. At any rate the big price tags that these games have been fetching on eBay means there are people interested in it. If it were only a handful of people the bids wouldn't get so high. So from a market stand point I think they did very well. Will sell games to new people who are curious, people who loved it but don't have it now and sure some completeist will buy it to have all versions of their beloved game. Good call. I do wonder about the MSRPs though. Perhaps some of their game choices which have higher prices might not move as many units just due to the cost of the game. I know I have actively avoided certain games because it's hard for me swallow shelling out more than $50 for a stupid board game.

To wrap things up this is a heart and supportive shout to Valley Games and a furrowed brow and scornful "Back off" to their detractors. Don't like Valley Games fine don't buy their products. Me I'm probably gonna own some of their games. Some I won't. Simple as that. The quality of their releases has been fantastic and the games have been a blast to play so far. Hey Ho! Let's go! Bring the games Valley some of us out there really appreciate what you've done for us so far.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Value of a Box of Bits...Hey Look It's a Bandwagon, I Better Jump On!

All good and worthy news sources out there report on the "hot topics" of the moment. Granted there is no way of mistaking TDHM for anything good or worthy much less a source for news but screw that as I said in the title I'm jumping on the bandwagon here and gonna talk about the infamous Mayfair deal of limiting how much a retailer can discount their product. Am I late on the topic? Yeah probably but I don't really care. Don't like it you can skip your happy ass right along to the next blog and ready about Susy Whitler's newest quilting session.

Hold on to your balls boys because as cheap as I am and as many times as I have ordered from online retailers I'm going to give a big 'ole "BRAVO" to Mayfair Games for being proactive in taking the first step to save our hobby. That's right I said Mayfair is trying to save our hobby! No I'm not one of those people who think that the internet is going to kill off this or put that out of business (see my previous post about Rays of F'ing Light and you'll see that my thought process is pretty much still the same here. That thought process is simply that online retailers are now feeling a bit of the crunch that the FLGS have been feeling for awhile and maybe they will need to rethink/rework their business model. Just like the FLGS also still need to rethink/rework their business model the only difference is now one of their product manufacturers is stepping up in support of them.

The only way for our hobby and that being the hobby of designer board gaming, to grow is for new people to find these games and play them. So the question then is how is that likely to happen? By some schlep sitting on the net surfing porn and jerking off who accidentally clicks over onto a site about board gaming (probability factor less than 1%). What about some schlep who happens to be taking his kid in to some new store that opened up in town to buy him some of the new Magic the Gathering expansion and he happens to see some board game that is themed around one of his favorite hobbies or something else that intrigues him? Which of these situations seems more plausible to you for creating a new fan of board games? (and YES I'm quite certain you were hoping for a nice porn image instead of me visualizing the MtG example but I do have scruples. Wait no I don't have scruples but there are rules for blogging that I was forced to agree to in order to have this blog in the first place. So blame "the man" for keeping you oppressed and absent of porn here at TDHM...or maybe check out )

Now I'm not a rich man. If I were I wouldn't be able to be bothered with writing bullshit for gamer geeks like you anyway. If I were rich I'd be far too busy entertaining all the hot ladies on my yatch all along the Spanish Rivera leaving me precious little time to play, think about and as mentioned write about a silly thing like board games. (Again no porn or hot chicks...that link for you one more time was ) My point here is that I understand the need to be frugal in shopping for games. No doubt about that. Hell for a long time I was the only person brining games to our group's gaming session as no one even owned any. [One of the negatives of living in a college town is that it's filled with poor students, of course one of the positives is all the hot young female students who walk around in next to nothing....sigh ( ) ] So there's some sort of balancing act that you as a fan of these games, as a hobbist, as someone who (should) give a shit about the future of gaming must work with.

Now who should be the responsible ones? On the one hand you have those who are more affluent than others...should they be the ones to only buy from FLGS? Well given that they are going to buy a large number of games if they did these few gamers could effectively fuel these stores almost by themselves. The truth is quite often these are also the ones who bring a large number of new titles out to be played. So then think how many more titles they can obtain and bring out if they were getting 30%-35%!

Then again let's say you are one who doesn't buy nearly that kind of numbers. What of you? Should you save up to buy a game or two here and there? Paying an extra 30%-35% would certainly slow your acquisition of games and that sucks ass too.

Mostly I think people will fall in between those marks. Regardless of this fact however I think that ALL of us are responsible parties. If you are gamer and you purchase games despite the quantity you purchase you need to be mindful of your purchases and spread them out. Buy some from online retailers and hell, I suggest you buy from those who offer free shipping at certain price points...if you are not going to buy enough to fulfill said minimum amount for free shipping get a group together and all go in. This way 4 or 5 of you will get a cheap game and no one pays shipping. This will also pressure those who don't offer free shipping price points to get off their asses and step up!

Still there are times you need to carry your sorry carcass into your local FLGS hang out and pick up that one game you really have been drooling over but for whatever reason haven't picked it! It's right there dammit, be an American and satisfy that instant gratification bullshit drive we all have in us.

Me personally well I can say that I very rarely purchase a $50-$55 game that I can easily buy online for $30-$35. Smaller games however I buy frequently locally. I mean when the difference is paying $20 for a game that is $15 online...well. I also tend to buy expansions locally because they fall into those price ranges as well as those lovely small box Fantasy Flight games and a few tuck box games. The profit margin is percentage wise still the same for the FLGS so when they look at their numbers they are going to see that they sold units in their board game inventory and encourage them to carry more and different titles. There will be plenty of people who walk in and pick up the bigger price tag titles too. Most of the places that sell games these days are not solely targeting us. Again they are going to carry the MtG expansions and probably some comics as well so again those dads bringing their kids in have a chance to browse these new shiny boxes of goodness.

Again I say bravo to Mayfair for stepping up and putting their neck out there. Days of Wonder! Where are you? Why aren't you next on this? DoW has a great line of products, great marketing and could easily jump into this as well and know that their product is still going to get stocked. Rio Grande? All their games are SDJ winners or nominees that alone is going to sell units no matter what the cheap ass gamers gotta pay for them! Enough buzz on BGG and there's gonna be a package sold and shipped right there.

Alright bitches that's my take on the situation like it or not. (As per usual with me.) Now for your horn dogs who've been waiting I'll throw up an image for you that relates to this paragraph specifically. Gotta love the internet, check out those hot little pink panties...damn you are pathetic.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Games That Make You Go FUCK! Part 2: "Six Stress Stimulators"

In my first column by the similar name I explained the thought process behind Games That Make You Go Fuck! Granted that first one was written from a negative slant but this one will be games that I do thoroughly enjoy but never the less make you go...Fuck!

Six Stress Stimulators are those games that even during the damnable setup of the game you are thinking to yourself "Dear God what have I got myself into?" or "Damn I hope I can manage to achieve X scenario before Joe-Bob" or even "Wasn't that colonoscopy I had done the other day less painful than this game?"

Yes these are games that I do adore and for some bizarre reason want to play again and again even though I'm pretty certain that either before or during the early rounds of these games I've been known to grumble "I hate this fucking game." Isn't that the mark of a good game though? Make those brain cells burn! Those gut wrenching decisions that you are not sure will pan out exactly like you wanted them to. Ahhhhhh yes sit down, play the game and go FUCK!

Die Macher. Certainly the inspiration for this list. The legend itself. The fabled game entry #1 on BGG and for a long time in the top 10 games on BGG. Yes a serious four hour tromp through the world of Germanic Politics at it's finest. What can I say about this game that has not already been said somewhere? I suppose I could say that playing Die Macher can be compared to taking a fine ground pesto paste, adding Tabasco sauce to it, smearing it on your gentiles and letting a goat lick it clean. In that I mean it's a bit scary to even to begin with, is a bit painful in the execution but somewhere along the line has a strong element of excitement and if the goat works it just right has a big pay off at the end. I could say and feel pretty good that nothing like that has ever been said in reference to this game to date. Yes I could say that but as I don't own a goat I have no real point of reference for that statement.

Die Macher is one of the few games that I've played that managed to squirm it's weasley ass into the coveted "Rank 10" spot on my BGG profile. Yes the game is that engaging. You get so sucked into this game that you do not feel the 4 hours slip past you like 4 hours of watching bum fights. You can't just say you have a tough decision to make right have to consider how this decision is going to impact what you have decided to already decide in the next 3 or 4 phases of this turn not to mention the entire next turn of the fucking game. Damn I'm tired just thinking about a game turn...but I do want to play it.

Diplomacy. Ahhhhhh the grand daddy of the of the "Who's the biggest asshole" games. I mean really people. There is nothing quite like spending 5-6 hours of your pitiful life huddled around a table, getting up to go talk to this backstabber that wants you to screw that guy, come back and that guy wants to talk to you about backstabbing the original backstabber meanwhile 4 other people keep getting and going off to talk and you know it's about them all backstabbing you when you finally come to a conclusion as to what you are going to do and deals are made and you think everything is equitable the turn starts and that guy and the original backstabber both plunge their knives deep into your spine. NOW that's gaming. NOW that's stress filled gaming.

Yes a World War II game with no real battles. I invade, but we bounce, the game is after all called Diplomacy. So it's all about your ability to negotiate with irrational son's of bitches and try your damndest to not get ass raped by someone who last turn was your bestest buddy in the whole wide world. FUCK! Oh yes this is a good game and to think people play this online...why for all that is sweet and innocent...why would you ever play this online. This is a face to face game if ever one was crafted.

Crokinole. The Ultimate is top notch Canadian know how all wrapped up into a simple on the table top piece of furniture...uhhh I mean game. Who else could have brought us the imbecilic "One ass cheek on the chair at all times" rule other than those wacky Canadians? "SO! I'm gonna pick up one of my pucks eh, and i'mma gonna hafta knock one of your pucks the heck outta there eh." Yes a game that truly does feel it was invited on the floor of some isolated cabin during a 38 day blizzard when the fun of group masturbation had wore off (along with certain anatomy skin) and dinner was currently consisting of the group's 2nd pet dog.

I do like some dexterity games! No doubt about that and Crokinole is my favorite of the bunch. Think flicking those cursed little wooden pucks around isn't stressful? Try creating a league. Put together 8 to 10 teams of 2 people. Play a season of games where each team plays the other twice a season for point. Whittle the field down to half teams and start the playoffs...maybe single game elimination or if you are feeling really saucy make it best of 3. Then play the finals. The smack talk, the eyes upon you and the pressure of needing to get this one puck in the 20 know what's coming by now don't you?.....FUCK!

Voc. Do you even know what game this is? Voc! is Splotter Spielen's game about the found of the Dutch Indies company. Now doesn't that just sound ever bit as thrilling as a game about running for a chair in German politics? Well at least this one isn't 4 hours of endurance. No instead here the big deal mechanic is using a dry erase marker you must navigate your ship....with your eyes closed. So this leaves you wonder where to draw the line so you don’t crash into continents. No worries you faithful shipmates will help you navigate. Trick is they can only speak one word and usually the get to speak one word 2 maybe 3 times per sail. Throw in that chances are good you’ll end up on a boat with someone who doesn’t get which direction North/South/East/West is or better doesn’t know LEFT from RIGHT and gives you the wrong command plunging your boat into the murky depths of the ocean.

For those who haven’t played Voc yet it’s surprising how fast and hard your heart beats when you close those eyes and are hoping you are making a turn at just the right time. What happens when the idiots…I mean shipmates run out of words? Well you are still sailing they just can’t help you anymore…do you press on and hope for the best or stop and pick up next turn from this place? Why the for shits sake he is starting to laugh? Am I doing something good or bad? Am I still on target or did I drag the pen too far to the left wait is that my left or right? Ahhhhhhhhhh FUCK!

Antiquity. Another game by Splotter and so why not lump both these douche bag games right here together then? Here’s a game that let’s you build your civilization, pollute the world, kill off your people all in the name of furthering yourself. Awesome! Now if you are really working it you can even manage to get to a point where you start polluting in other players areas via the water ways so yes you get to destroy the natural habitat that way too. This game kicks so much ass in that sense it’s frigging amazing.

But that does leave you sitting there wondering…who’s gonna be polluting in your back yard and when? Did he manage to man his dump this turn? Cause I really need to dump my pollution in his area cause I don’t have the ability to anywhere around me I’m so damned full up from last turn. Oh but building is done secret so who knows what people have manned. Not to mention other players are not the biggest threat to your existence in this game…YOU are. That’s right Antiquity has built in self kill mechanism so each and every turn is based around calculating if you’ll be able to manage to keep your in the game. Forget playing for victory conditions dammit I’m playing to stay alive. Have I even thought about victory conditions yet? Well I don’t have a cathedral built yet to tell me what my conditions will be. Maybe I should look into…wait a second he just filled in those last two areas of my open space next to my 2nd city! I needed that for my pollution…FUCK!

Well there you go. Those are my picks of damned good games, game that I love to play and want to play again right now but none the less make you go “FUCK.”

What’s that? It’s only five games and I said six in the title? Well yeah that’s right but back off jack off. I was just using a bit of ultra cool alliteration and couldn’t make FIVE work. Does it really make sense to have a list of 6 some things when it’s common to use 5 as a mid/stopping point? Yeah, I don’t think so either. So that’s my reasoning anyway.

Could there be a sixth for me? Hell yeah and it seems to me if I were to extend a few brain cells to think on it the ones that now quickly pop into mind are the card driven two player games like; Twilight Struggle, Hammer of the Scots, Crusader Rex, and of course Hannibal: Rome Vs. Carthage. Still I’m not going to talk about those here and now cause I’m pretty damn sick of this entry already so thanks for sticking with it and getting this far.